Twitter to pay $150M settlement over misusing user data

Twitter's $150 million settlement with the US authorities pertains to misleading data collection and ad targetting practices between 2013 and 2019.
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Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations that the company misused user data that was collected under the guise of security, to help advertisers with ad targetting mechanisms. According to court documents, this practice misrepresented the "security and privacy" of user data.

According to Reuters, phone numbers, among other private information, which were requested from users to provide security for their accounts, were allegedly used to target users between May 2013 and September 2019.

"Specifically, while Twitter represented to users that it collected their telephone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts, Twitter failed to disclose that it also used user contact information to aid advertisers in reaching their preferred audiences," the complaint said.

The US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed the settlement amount. In addition, Twitter will also need to improve their compliance practices.

Elon Musk, who is in the midst of pursuing a $43 billion takeover of Twitter, also criticised the development, calling it "very concerning news."

In recent days, Musk has become a vocal critic of Twitter's practices, including their claims that only 5 percent of monetisable users are spam bots. However, there is no firm indication that Musk plans to retreat from his bid.

Edited by Anju Narayanan